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My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can Make New Products More Human

Your relationships with your “smart” products are about to get a lot more personal.

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March 20, 2021

Think how commonplace it is now for people to ask Siri for the weather forecast, to deploy Roomba to clean their homes, and to summon Alexa to turn on the lights. The “smart home” market will reach $124 billion in the next five years on the promise of products that are truly integrated with our cooking, cleaning, entertainment, security, and hygiene habits.

These products are not just examples of machines at work. They can motivate our spouse to exercise, remind our elderly parents to take their daily medications, teach our children manners—they can even start to feel like members of our households and families. But the reality is, these first-generation “smart” products aren’t very smart. Sure, they can be programmed to perform any number of functions, but we’re clearly seeing only the tip of the iceberg in terms of capability and how such products can enhance our lives. How do we take it to the next level?

In a word: design. In this fascinating and instructive book, leading product design expert Carla Diana describes how new technology is allowing designers to humanize consumer products in delightfully subtle ways. Showcasing vivid examples of crucial social design principles as evidenced in products under development, we see how inventive uses of light, sound, and movement can evoke human responses to even seemingly mundane products. Diana offers concrete guidelines for conceptualizing, building, and optimizing products using such methods as vision imagery, scenario storyboarding, video prototyping, behavior charting, and more.

My Robot Gets Me provides keen insights and practical advice to anyone interested or involved in the burgeoning smart marketplace, from product managers, developers, and designers to venture capitalists.